Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
Chapter 9: Amish Entrepreneurship in the United States
9. Amish entrepreneurship in the United States* Léo-Paul Dana Therefore the Lord God sent him forth . . . to till the ground. (Genesis 3:23) INTRODUCTION The Amish People1 are an offshoot of the Mennonites, a religious group that was established in 1525, in Zurich, Switzerland. Named for Menno Simons, the Mennonites had beliefs which were considered radical at the time; for instance, they believed in the separation of Church and State. These people felt that a religion should involve only voluntary believers, and that no religion should be imposed upon children at birth. Keeping in line with this conviction, they refused to baptize their infants. Instead, individuals could be voluntarily baptized, if and when they felt mature enough to decide for themselves. This religious group was therefore referred to as the Anabaptists. Anabaptists were persecuted in Europe, because they did not believe in baptism and because they desired separation of Church and State. Religious freedom attracted them to America, and according to Stauffer (1941) the first of these arrived in the United States in 1683. Thus, they left Switzerland, Germany and Alsace Lorraine, for the United States, where a Quaker, William Penn, promised them religious freedom and the federal government offered them land grants. In 1693, Swiss-born Jakob Ammann felt that the Mennonites were straying from a strictly religious background. He then proceeded to establish a more conservative and disciplined offshoot, which came to be known as the Amish. More so than the Mennonites, the Amish were – and continue to...
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